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Today's Newsletter - BCBR News and Notes

Extra, Extra, Read All About It …and by "it" we mean everything that’s happening at your REALTOR® Board Office, in your Real Estate profession and in housing news throughout Berkshire County and beyond. This information is updated continually, and covers topics from your e-news notices, press releases, ProMatch Message Board, MAR, NAR and more - so keep checking back to keep up-to-date.

If you are looking for past news, please view our archives.

Current News Headlines

Fair Housing, Syndication & Copyright

Issues Demand your Immediate Attention

Did you know????

Fair housing testers are actively searching

fairhousingThere have been many lawsuits, but the most recent fair housing lawsuit was filed by a self proclaimed "fair housing tester" who was activiely searching for listing remarks that violate fair housing laws, and filed discrimination LAWSUITS against both the listing agents and broker-owners for violations found. The most recent case was interesting, to say the least.  To address the seriousness of this issue, we’ve developed three simple steps that you can take to protect your company, your agents and the public:

  1. Learn About the Issue:What promoted this notice and details about the Fair Housing, Communications Decency and Digital Copyright Acts.
  2. Check/Fix Your Listings: Look at several REAL life violations in currently found in our Berkshire MLS Listings
  3. Get Great Training: Check out the Webinar we scheduled for you and our online training resources!

1-2-3 Fair Housing Steps in a easy tp print PDF

Copyright Symbol: 

The MLS board has voted to begin watermarking all MLS submitted photos with a copyright ©BerkshireMLS.  The purpose is to protect the listing data, help thwart copyright infringement and detect infringement if it occurs. We will aggressively pursue anyone who uses your listing data without authorization. While the BerkshireMLS owns the copyright for the compilation of listings, each Participant still owns the copyrights to his or her own company’s listings and photos.  (the independent contractor agreement you have with your agents, or work-for-hire agreement you have with any authors or photographers determine actual ownership / use of copyright).  There are many active lawsuits nationwide and two Ethics complaints have been filed locally surrounding copyright infringement BY AGENTS, using previous agents listing photos.  Anyone who copies photos that he or she didn’t take is stealing, and such actions are prohibited by copyright law.  You can only use photos or text with the permission of the creator.   Please remind agents they may not use photos unless they have obtained permission from the photographer, and make sure you have updated your independent contractor agreements to include copyright assignment.  NAR has created a fantastic “flow of rights” with sample copyright language for all situations a brokerage might encounter. 

Syndication in Your hands: 

There were slight modifications to the data input screen in FlexMLS when entering a new listing, giving you the option of syndicating your listings to, iBerkshires and/or Point2 Partners (including Zillow, Trulia, AOL and over 80 partners).  This keeps syndication in the hands of the seller / agent / broker for display where it is most effective.  As always, the MLS Board is studying syndication issues as they emerge and encourage you to have a conversation in your office about the pros and cons of online marketing of all types.  If you haven’t read the Clariety State of Syndication report yet, there is a direct link for some great information.

It is important to us to know if you’ve received and read this information.  As the broker responsible for the office, we hope that the message is coming through and we are helping to protect your best interests.  Please do us a favor and reply to this message to let us know you’ve received it… and let us know if there is anything else we can do to help.  We’d so appreciate that feedback!!

Scheduling Closing Dates: Message from M. Shepard

Are You Providing an Appropriate Amount of Time to Closing?

An open letter from Michael Shepard, Esquire:


I am repeatedly seeing requests for extensions on the financing contingency.  There is a limited number of appraisors and the system is bottle necked right now.  Keep in mind that, with the interest rate as low as it is, many current home owners are seeking to refinance.  Consequently, the demand on appraisors and the bank underwiritng departments is pretty extreme.  I have solicted a couple of bankers in the residential departments for some timeline guidelines for preparation of contract.

As a rule of thumb (absent an emergency), I would use 40 days for your financing contingency, and you have to allow 7-10 days after that for the bank's closing department and the buyer's lawyer to get the paperwork done in preparation for the closing.  I think good business practice would be to identify the buyer's banker and pre-contract get some solid information on a timeline.  Absent that, 40 days is probably the minimum.

As to the closing, once the person gets their commitment and clear to close, then the bank's closing department goes to work in conjunction with the buyer's lawyer.  Closings cannot be scheduled until the buyer is clear to close.  Some individuals are confused, saying that the person has a commitment and they are all set.  There is another step "being clear to close".  Many commitments today have conditions that must be satisified before the buyer is "clear".  The closing cannot be scheduled until the buyer is "clear".  The bottom line is you can't have your financing contigency on August 1st and your closing on August 2nd.

From the buyer's broker's point of view, they do not want to use artifically short dates.  I believe that could expose that broker to a lawsuit if the financing contingency date is  not met and the financing is ultimately denied, or the buyer gets commitment and clear but cannot schedule the closing to meet the contract closing date.  Under either circumstance, the buyer's deposit is at risk, and nobody want to get sued.


Michael J. Shepard, P.C.

24/7 Online CE Class - December 31, 2012

Static Program, 4 credits available, FREE for REALTORS

REALTOR Members can access Massachusetts continuing education courses for free after logging in or creating a Learning Library account that includes a valid 9-digit NRDS (REALTOR membership) number. Click the event location link to be redirected to the FREE CE page on Learning Library.

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